This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Devolution and Policy Change in the Gulf of Mexico: Red Snapper Management




Moorman, Thomas

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


In 2020, American states were given management authority for Lutjanus campechanus (northern red snapper) in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico through Amendment 50 to the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fishery Management Plan. This amendment, which devolved authority to a more local scale, was preceded by years of heated debate about the methods and numbers by which red snapper should be managed. Given the politically divisive nature of both red snapper and American politics in recent years, how was Amendment 50 passed? Our research uses public policy theory, specifically its Multiple Streams Theory, to describe the process of Amendment 50’s passage. We focus on the messaging strategy used by stakeholder groups. We examine their preferences and rationale for devolved management. Analysis shows that supporters associated state management with longer seasons and more flexible management practices. It also shows a general preference by stakeholders for more locally scaled management of their natural resources. Those with negative attitudes often mistrusted accountability systems in place in the states, feared overfishing, and generally preferred federal management. Beyond its ability to inform future management decisions for red snapper, this research, via the lessons learned from Amendment 50, can inform future natural resource devolution initiatives.